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Featured Official Assessment

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Raggamuffin, May 29, 2020.

  1. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    Once a year I get a cheque and normally I spend it on trivial items, or to pay off debt. This year I'm financially stable and I thought it would be a good time to bite the bullet and get a private autism assessment done once the lockdown is lifted so an appointment is possible.

    I got in contact with a clinic in a nearby city which I visited once before, many moons ago. Back in my first job I had CBT sessions which were paid for by the companies private healthcare insurance. However, prior to being able to start therapy I had to attend a psychiatric assessment.

    This was fairly brief - lasting around an hour. There was a long list of questions to get through and at the end he referred to numerous potential mood and developmental disorders that I might have.

    Something I realised tonight is that I don't recall ever receiving any formal letter or paperwork. Their website states this should be received within 2 weeks of the appointment. So I figured I'd take a chance and I've just emailed the clinic with some of my details to see if they're able to forward a copy of this to me.

    I also requested a price on an autism assessment, as well as querying when their practice might be reopening after the lockdown.

    They had a bunch of online assessments on their site. I'm no stranger to these questions, but I must admit it doesn't fill me with a great sense of pride getting such high marks in these sorts of tests. I guess it doesn't provide a great sense of closure as I feel like I need a medically trained professional to diagnose me.

    42/48 bipolar (25+ is likely)
    51/61 depression (31+)
    36/40 anxiety (25+)
    48/48 ADHD (27+)
    27/30 Autism (20+)

    Thing is, back when I was having this assessment I was in the midst of several years of intense anxiety and constant aches and pains etc. Every day I was obssessing over my supposed ill health and I didn't fathom there could be other underlying or co-existing conditions. When he reeled off these possible disorders I didn't really take it in. I seem to recall feeling nervous and impatient for the appointment to end because at the time being far from home or in a new place would cause a flood of anxiety and intense physical symptoms to hit me.

    So when I was told of these possibilities I wasn't really moved - because I was too focused on the discomfort in my head and my body. Plus, with no formal letter after the appointment, I guess I never really decided to pursue it until many years later.

    Anyway - if they can send me a copy that'd be great. If not, I'm in the position to spend what's needed to get an official diagnosis in some way, shape or form.

    Ed
     
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  2. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    I'm surprised they got back to me so quickly. Especially as most offices shut around 5pm and this email was just before 8pm. They asked for more info such as an appointment date and psychologist name. Basic stuff which I didn't have. So I went through all my paperwork and found nothing.

    Then it occured to me that I used to frequent a forum and used to post regularly. Couldn't login as I've long since forgotten my password but I could search the forums.

    Lo and behold I found the date - 20th October 2012. I'm glad I went with my gut; it usually doesn't steer me wrong. It's when I start to doubt my gut instincts and over think things - then I tend to mess up.

    Speaking of messing up I sent 3 emails with the date because I messed it up twice and corrected it on the third attempt. I find when I mix excitement with eagerness I tend to make no end of mistakes.

    Ed
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  3. menander

    menander Well-Known Member

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    I found there is no substitute for formal assessment because there can be collateral issues you would never find and never even knew about. I hope you do it. It might give you a lot of answers. But we accept you the same no matter what! :) PS I am glad you can trust your gut. Mine has led me wrong too many times to count. It's not even funny.
     
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  4. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    I won't listen to my gut reaction to situations if my mind isn't in a good place. Anxiety or depression etc means my instinctive reaction to anything probably isn't in my best interests.

    In those instances I wait until things have calmed down - so in those moments I guess I use my head. Then again, it's very easy to get stuck in your head too. So then it's best to try mindfulness and be a non-judgemental observer as it unfolds.

    I think I could do with multiple heads, like in the film Return to Oz - so when I'm feeling frazzled I can just change things over.

    Return-to-Oz-1.jpg

    Ed
     
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  5. menander

    menander Well-Known Member

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    I have many voices and they have led me down so many paths and once I am there I can't find my way out. You really would not believe how hard it is for me to think of a single solution. I am not kidding. I have been stuck for YEARS in ruts (many) for which there were OBVIOUS SOLUTIONS and I never saw them. Here is an example that is NOT true, but could be. If I were driving in a car and it was raining and I had excellent wipers, I would never even imagine to turn them on. I would be so distracted by the discomfort and confusion of the rain, that I literally would not think of the wipers even if I knew they were there.

    Now imagine this widespread. I might eat foods to which I am intolerant and there may be a solution. I never find it. I live years in agony. THere might be a partner who locks me in the bedroom every night and it never dawns on me to ask them to stop because I am too stressed to think or even to check the door to realize IT WAS NOT LOCKED, they just ordered me to stay there.

    I might have a fish I like and can't figure out how to get the food (social) and no one tells me : ORDER ONLINE. I never figure it out until someone else says it.

    This is will school, I can't read and no one told me oh, maybe you need larger print. REALLY? something so easy.

    My life has been wasted by missing easy solutions. Right in my grasp.

    I get OVERWHELMED by the distress of a given stressor and cannot see anything beyond it. Like tunnel.

    Of course why I have no friends. Why don't they call? Oh why? Oh, why don't I call them......but can't. If I do I regret it....

    Trapped in a brain and gut that hate me.
     
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  6. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    Man, I wish they’d hurry up and figure things out better than they have. I don’t know what you are feeling with testing for all these things on that online test, but me getting diagnosed with multiple things has left me feeling deeply flawed at times.

    Like the real explanation must be things like an unusually developed prefrontal cortex, resulting in these tendencies and these other tendencies.
     
  7. WoodWorkingJoel

    WoodWorkingJoel Active Member

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    Just curious about another aspect of this.
    I think your in the UK, if you are officially diagnosed would you qualify for any social benefits or NHS help?
     
  8. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    Not sure if they would. To be honest I've been working since I was 18 and I'm approaching 34. Got a mortgage and a longer term partner. I have no intention of claiming benefits.

    I don't think it'd be good for my mental health if I wasn't working. It'd result in far too much time in my head and that would probably lead to an increase in depression and anxiety.

    Ed
     
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  9. Matthias

    Matthias Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts are an evaluation for autism is a waste of time and money. While a diagnosis is helpful for a child to get accommodations in school and other services there isn't much available for adults with autism and stuff that may help like social skills groups doesn't require an autism diagnosis. Maybe you just want to know? Diagnosis is more of an art than a science. Just because a professional diagnoses you with autism doesn't mean you're autistic. Another evaluation may result in another professional saying you're not autistic.

    It's common for autistic people to also have ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Researches have recently found a link between early childhood trauma and ADHD (it's not studied in autism for political reasons) which could also explain depression and anxiety. The most effective treatment for depression and anxiety is CBT which you can try on your own without a therapist using self-help books to see if it helps. Dr. Burns has a great self-help book called "The Feeling Good Handbook" that teaches CBT to treat depression and anxiety.

    I recommend getting evaluated for bipolar because manic phases can be deadly or seriously harm you. It can be treated with a prescription for lithium which you probably can't get without a diagnosis. Lithium is a nutrient so while you can buy lithium supplements without a prescription (or drink tap water instead of bottled water) that may help with subclinical bipolar disorder, it probably won't be enough if you meet the criteria for bipolar disorder.
     
  10. Starfire

    Starfire Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    No, an adult ASD diagnosis does not entitle one to NHS, social security or other type of benefits.
     
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  11. Starfire

    Starfire Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I’m curious about why you want to go through the formal assessment process?

    It’s going to cost you a lot of money and will not entitle you anything other than accommodations at work, so what is the point and what do you feel you’ll benefit from it? Also, I believe from memory I’ve read that a private diagnosis often isn’t recognised by the NHS or other bodies, are you aware of that? I’m not saying I agree with that because I don’t, it may well be an NHS psychiatrist/psychologist doing the assessment as a private job bizarrely!

    As you have a job, long term partner, house etc, why bother doing it is my question, in a nutshell?
     
  12. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Interesting question posed from one Brit to another.

    On our side of the pond, revealing that you are autistic is still risky business. In a society that seems to view autism as some kind of children's disease that simply evaporates when one turns 18. So the precariousness of being open about it is obvious, both at home and the workplace.

    It seems at least those in Great Britain have a bit of a better time in the workplace with some degree of protection and accommodation. But outside the workplace, are their social advantages acknowledged by friends and peers as well?

    As you ask- is it truly worth it? o_O
     
  13. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    I received a reply from the clinic and was advised they keep records for 7 years - so I was 1 year out. Shame really, but it can't be helped. They advised me a private assessment would be 2 hours long and as their clinics are currently shut, the assessment would be done via an online chat and would cost £885. That is £115 cheaper than another private clinic in the same city. This cheaper price could be because it's an online consultation.

    As for the questions regarding why I want an official assessment done - there's no clear-cut answer. It's expensive and could be viewed as wasteful. With me having no desire to claim government benefits, I think the real benefit could be internal. I imagine there could be some positive and negative outcomes to an official assessment.

    I bought the book you recommended. I'm not that keen on how it's written but I am persevering. By page 18 it had said for my level of depression "it is not wise to try to treat a severe depression on your own. A professional consultation is a must. Seek out a trusted and competent counsellor."

    I've seen 4 therapists over the years, with 2 specialising in CBT. It's interesting to see how when this book was written CBT didn't have the global backing it seems to nowadays. Still, there's no panacea for any mood disorder, so far as I can tell. As with the spectrum - everyone's experience is different. There might be similarities in some, but not all and everyone's approach, success and difficulties will have a unique flavour.

    I'm going back to my therapist in a month or 2, once the lockdown is relieved. I think it best to spend a week or two completing some CBT worksheets and sending them to my therapist before our first session. Personally, I'm not a fan of the worksheet format and found them overly simplistic and patronising. Still, I know that simple advice can be effective - it's just the daily implementation that is far from simple.

    Then again, as with quitting my addictions, I know that it just takes time to install new routines until the internal resistance starts to quieten down. For the best (worst) part of 20 years with depression I feel like there is a lot of background noise to quieten for CBT, or indeed other forms of therapy to really help.

    Recently my therapist was trying to help me implement more mindfulness into day to day life. I think when I go back to therapy, I'll spend some time doing 1 session a week as opposed to 1 every fortnight. Still, in an ideal world I'd prefer maybe 2 sessions a week for a while. Simply because I feel like the positive feelings, and good advice start to burn out, or fade into forgetfulness after a day or 2 from my last session.

    As for medication - I tried many in the early days with anxiety and I'm not a fan of going down that road again. Especially with regards to lithium. I know that progress is a continuous journey and I always return to therapy when I know in myself that things need re-assessing and I'd rather approach future improvements and success with a sober frame of mind.

    Whilst spending nearly £1000 on an assessment may seem frivolous or wasteful - I know that I'd only squander the money if I didn't spend it on this appointment anyway.

    Ed
     
  14. Starfire

    Starfire Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Wow 2 hours, that doesn’t seem very thorough! Mine was an NHS assessment and took around 6 hours. However, that also included a very in-depth interview with my mother about my early years and developmental stages which took just over an hour. I wasn’t involved in that. I also had a couple of telephone consultations and had to fill in questionnaires during my waiting time.

    Did they ask you bring a parent/guardian to the assessment or just yourself?
     
  15. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    There was no detail other than duration and a link to the consultant psychologist's profile. I'd read about a parent attending when I read the description at the other private clinic in the city. However that too was a duration of 2 hours for the assessment.

    Ed
     
  16. Starfire

    Starfire Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I believe it’s normal practice for a parent/guardian to be requested for an assessment if at all possible, for a child or adult. I had mine in my late forties.

    I was also asked to bring any school reports which luckily my mother had a few of. They need to get a reliable indication that your traits were present from childhood and not a recent development.

    There was 2 clinicians present, one asked a couple of questions while the other made notes about body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact etc, then they swapped.

    It would concern me that an online assessment would miss many of these possible stims, such as picking fingernails, wringing fingers, shaking your leg or foot or an assortment of other stims which would be done off screen.

    Realistically, I could see a lot of problems with an autism assessment being done online. I’m not trying to put you off, quite the opposite actually. If you’re not in a rush why don’t you see your GP and go down the NHS route? Mine took a year from beginning to end, it was extremely thorough and professional.

    At least do plenty of research into the different private options, who will be doing the assessment, what their qualifications are, do they specialise in adult autism diagnosis or is one of many services they offer. You’ve waited a lot of years to reach this point, don’t rush things now just for the sake of it, and part with a sizeable chunk of money in the process.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
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  17. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    I queried when their clinic was open because I was dubious how effective an internet assessment would be. I will enquire with my GP about going the NHS route.

    My initial enquiry with this clinic was to see if they still had my records from this assessment back in 2012. I suppose impulse was to then see if they could do an autism assessment. Mainly out of convenience as I had already started an email conversation with them. The psychiatrist they said could do the assessment does have 15 years specialising in adult autism and Asperger's.

    I do still wonder whether or not I need such an assessment again, along with an autism one. I recall the psychiatrist mentioning potential bipolar, PTSD, ADHD as well as anxiety and depression. Still - it was the wording of "potential" which are words which don't sit well with me and my black and white mindset.

    Of course, knowing that there's a chance there isn't a black and white answer to an assessment makes me feel a little uneasy as well. But then I back up this doubt with my own form of reassurance which often leads me to a point of questioning whether or not an assessment is necessary.

    Still, the waiting list for an NHS assessment leaves plenty of time to ponder if it's what is right for me. I'm not sure when the surgery is open again. But I finish work in 10 minutes and I can call them on the way home and ask.

    Ed
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  18. Jumpback

    Jumpback Well-Known Member

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    People, as social animals, are programmed to need external validation. Monkeys organize into troops, and then groom each other. People always have organized into tribes or clans or whatever. The most horrible thing from an evolutionary standpoint for a human is to be completely on ones own with no external validation. It's not rational, it's survival instinct or something

    I was watching videos on Kim Peek, the guy the movie "Rainman" was based on, and after the movie came out he seems to have changed a lot, became more outgoing and can sort of look people in the eyes

    I’ve read that academy award winners live longer than typical actors and actresses

    In my case, sexual assault issues committed by gays during the gay rights movement seemed to result in people ignoring my issues and being primarily concerned with how gays look sort of completely isolated me and messed up my head severely.

    Like external validation just is kind of calming, but it’s because a few million years of evolution has programmed these things into us, not because it’s rational to care what people in charge think
     
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  19. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    What you say makes me wonder if that's why I find where I work such a struggle. The only person I truly get on with has been off for months and I'm surrounded by people I don't talk with and don't share much in common. So there's no validation there other than when I'm thanked for doing a good job with a certain task or vehicle defect attendance etc. Overall the job is fast paced, constantly stopping and starting tasks and poorly paid.

    My day at work involved keeping as busy as I can. Because once I start getting distracted it can all fall apart. Especially getting flustered when I hear small talk around topics I dislike and opinions which are the polar opposite to my own. The more they talk the more uneasy I feel. Barraged with internal questions and tension. Right now I can use headphones, but potentially in 2 weeks or less I may not be allowed to use them anymore.

    I think part of me wants to get an assessment done so that I could potentially make my work life less stressful. I know it's avoidance behaviour to block out the noise and conversations that provoke strong negative emotions inside, but at this point - with such a prolonged experience with anxiety and depression and other issues: I just want to make a job that makes me unhappy to feel a bit easier.

    Ed
     
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  20. Starfire

    Starfire Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I think you’ve made a smart move, and a good decision. If I was paying over £400 an hour for a service, I would want the top service not the second class one.

    At that price, an online assessment under those conditions simply could not be good value and fully accurate for reasons some of which I gave previously. Also, if it concluded you were ‘potentially’ on the spectrum, or ‘potentially’ not on the spectrum you would still be no further forward, how infuriating!

    By going the NHS route it will be slower, that is without doubt, but you will be given a definitive answer. I was told at my assessment that if they couldn’t reach a satisfactory unambiguous decision then they would require further information and a further assessment until a concrete decision either way could be made, my mother and both agreed to those terms.

    You’ve also bought yourself time to research and think whether it is something you still want to go through in a year or so, and if not just cancel and your place will be given to someone else, no problem, no cancellation fee.

    To conclude Ed, be aware that a diagnosis will enable you to no financial support not that you are looking for it, and there is little in the way of help or support for adults. You will be entitled to accommodations at any future exams you may sit, or in the workplace, but disclosing a diagnosis at work may open a big can of worms for you. You may also have to disclose it to the DVLA.

    What you may well get though, is self-knowledge and understanding as well as reasons for elements of your behaviour or personality which others including your loved ones fail to comprehend, accept, tolerate or understand without this missing piece of the puzzle of you.

    It may give you an inner peace and sense that actually there is nothing wrong with you, nothing broken, you are not a freak or a weird to be ignored or rejected, much of what has happened to you was not your fault. Your quirks may be your strengths. and having had a difficult, painful and at times very miserable life, you can arm yourself with new coping strategies and a different approach to people and life only it will be be on YOUR terms now, not other peoples. Well that’s some of what eventually and later in life, I got from my diagnosis.
    Good luck friend.
     
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